Saturday, October 31, 2009


Sorry to not fill you in on the rest of the tournament...

We've successfully closed the curtain on the inaugural Madison Open Squash Championships. We showed off some incredible squash and this should create some more buzz in the Madison squash community and beyond.

For the record:
We hosted 25 athletes from 13 countries.
Bernardo Samper of Columbia upset the seedings and beat our number one seed Gilly Lane from the US National Team.

We hosted 45 amateurs in 5 events over the weekend.

From the Quarterfinals on our bleachers, which hold 70 people, were completely packed and the bar area was filled with more people watching on close circuit TV.

We really do appreciate the financial and moral support we received from our many sponsors and patrons. It's a lot to ask people to back an event in a small club like ours that doesn't get a lot of press or public exposure. We're hoping to learn from this experience and get more exposure next time around.

Go to SquashSite to get the full write-up and see some cool photos by Tom McInvaille.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Round One

The level of play went up a notch tonight in Madison.

The longest match of the night saw the young Englishmen Ben Coleman upsetting the higher ranked Bart Ravelli in a 73 minute marathon. Two fit guys, a bouncy ball and a hot court makes for a long match. Neither could tuck the ball away so the points went on and on until Ben finally was able to finish it off in four. They might be still playing had it gone to a fifth.

Contrast that match with the Amr Mansi-Fernando Lopez match that went 5 games and only 38 minutes. Some great retrieving, and a lot of attacking shotmaking that were either winners or tins.

Our other qualifiers ran into some stiff opposition. Anthony Graham, an extraordinarily fit player ran into Wade Johnstone which made for a very entertaining match. More than one person in the crowd tonight commented on how quick Wade's hands were and how clinical his shot placement was. It was a fun match to watch, but it seemed like only a matter of time before Johnstone simply wore Graham down with his precision and pace.

Ehimen Ehalen played Bernardo Samper and afterwards told me that he kept trying to slow Samper down, and just was not able to control the pace at all.

The Madison favourite Mark Heather played Chris Gordon and it looked like this match was going to be something special until an unintentional collision left Mark with a dead leg for most of the first and second game. He gamely played on and took the third, but Chris was able to close it out with some exceptional shotmaking and even more exceptional retrieving. He's not the prettiest mover in the game, but his court coverage is quite impressive.

Mike Corren was hampered by a quadriceps problem so was just not able to move well and lost to Legotla Mosope in three.

Peter Creed and Gilly Lane had routine wins over Wildcard Luke Butterworth and Keith Pritchard respectively.

Qualification Finals

There were some upsets today in final qualifying as three Englishmen made the main draw.

First on court were Jonas Laursen (219), the amiable Dane, against Ehimen Joseph Ehalen (359) of Nigeria. Jonas is a
hard hitter and he came out firing against the rangy Nigerian. Some
errors put Laursen down 0-3, but he looked to be settling in until
something popped in the front of his lower leg. He managed to get to
7-5, but it was clear his movement was limited and he simply
couldn't change directions. Ehalen won the first 11-9. Laursen
returned to court for the second, and managed a respectable 9-11 by
hitting winners off Ehalen's serve, but it wasn't enough playing on
one leg, so he retired 3-7 in the 3rd.

Next on was Ben Coleman (383) and Tiago Cabral (250)
of Brazil. This would be Ben's first real test on the PSA tour and
he was put under a bit more pressure tonight than he was last night.
Ben had the first game ball, but was denied the game by a more
patient Cabral who finished it at 12-10. The second game was close
up until 6 all when Ben pulled away to 9-7. Again Cabral clawed his
way back into the game and tied the score at 10. It wasn't enough
this time as Ben was able to close out this game 12-10.

A great start by Ben in the 3rd had him at 4-1 and then 6-2 up and
it just didn't give Cabral enough time to work his way back into the
game. 11-6 to Ben. The fourth was a carbon copy of the 3rd with Ben
jumping to a 3-1 lead and then a 10-4 lead. Cabral staved off 4
match balls, but came up short in the end.

European Junior Champion Anthony Graham had another great
match today chopping Maxym Leclair in 20 minutes. Anthony
plays a very disciplined game and is extraordinarily quick. Maxym
could not get Anthony out of the front of the court and found
himself chasing the entire match.

Finally on court was PSA veteran Mark Heather vs. Paul
(242). Paul told me after the match that he knew as
soon as saw the draw that he would have to play Mark, and as luck
would have it, that's who he got. Mark started exceptionally well
and dominated the centre of the court. Paul could not coax enough
depth to remove his more experienced opponent off the T and suffered
greatly for it. Paul said afterwards, "Even when I hit good length,
it didn't matter as Mark was able to handle it easily."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Qualification Round One

The inaugural Madison Open and first stop of the Squash Design Tour kicked off with a bang with some exciting squash for the members and friends of this brand new facility in Madison, Wisconsin.

In his first PSA appearance, youngster Anthony Graham took the first win of the night against Ned Marks. Anthony looked sharp against the former Denison University player.

Next on court was British U19 standout Ben Coleman vs. MSW club owner and teaching pro Damon Bourne. Suffice it to say, that despite playing squash for longer than Ben has been alive, Damon considered it a victory by simply keeping Ben on court for 35 minutes without even stalling too much.

The last match of the day was the Head Squash Professional at the University Club of Chicago and not incidentally, former World No. 39, Mark Heather vs. Omar El-Kashef of Egypt. Mark managed to win the first 11-5, despite starting with some nerves. The guys traded the next two games and then things got serious in the fourth.

Omar went up 9-4 and looked to be cruising, but Mark settled down and played a bit more aggressively to bring the score up to 8-9. Things got bit messy with a lot of mid-court contact and more than a few tumbles by both guys, but Omar turned it up and played some great shots and closed out the game 11-8. In the decider, Mark had an excellent start and jumped to a 6-0 lead before Omar could get on the board. The Egyptian seemed a bit tired in this game after his efforts in the fourth, and the Englishman finished the match 11-3.

Final qualifying rounds on Wednesday night.

Round 2
Jonas Laursen (DEN) vs. Ehimen Ehalen (NGR)
Tiago Cabral (BRA) vs. Ben Coleman (ENG)
Anthony Graham (ENG) vs. Maxym Leclair (CAN)
Mark Heather (ENG) vs. Paul Mathieson (ITA)

Round 1
Anthony Graham def. Ned Marks: 11-6, 11-3, 11-5 30 min.
Ben Coleman def. Damon Bourne 11-8, 11-6, 11-3 35 min.
Mark Heather def. Omar El-Kashef 11-5, 7-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-3 65 min.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day one: 11:45am

Tournament starts today with a few qualifying matches. We're down to 11 qualifies as one of our locals is sick. So, starting tonight we'll do the roll call, create the draw and begin play at 6:00 with each match on our show court. Should be fun.

Most of the qualifiers have arrived, though I'm still waiting to hear from our Brazilian, Tiago Cabral. He's supposed to be here today at some point.

Currently hitting on court are two very young players from England,18 year old Ben Coleman and 19 year old Anthony Grant. This is their first PSA tournament and they are pretty eager to get out there and play with with the senior players.

More later

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Schedule of Events

Here is the schedule for Tournament Week.
Pros go from Tuesday through Sunday. Everything but the finals on Sunday happens in the evenings.

Amateurs begin on Friday evening and go through Sunday.

Tuesday Oct. 20th, PSA Event:
5:00 pm Roll Call, Qualification Draw
Matches on Courts 3 and 4
6:00 pm 2 matches
6:50 pm 2 matches
7:40 pm 2 matches
8:30 pm 2 matches

Wednesday 21st, PSA Event:
6:00 pm 1 qualifier
6:50 pm 1 qualifier
7:40 pm 1 qualifier
8:30 pm 1 qualifier

Thursday 22nd:
PSA Event: 1st Round Main Draw Courts 3 and 4
5:00 pm 2 matches
6:00 pm 2 matches
7:00 pm 2 matches
8:00 pm 2 matches

Friday 23rd:
Amateur Event on courts 1-3
4:00 pm--9:00 pm

PSA Event Quarter Finals
Court 4
5:00 pm 1 Quarter
6:00 pm 2 Quarter
7:00 pm 3 Quarter
8:00 pm 4 Quarter

Saturday 24th:
Amateur Event:
8:00 am--5:00 pm

PSA Event Semi Finals
Court 4
5:00 pm Semi 1
6:00 pm Semi 2

Player Reception at the club. Finger foods. Chat with the pros. Hang out in our cool space.

Sunday 25th:
Amateur Finals
8:00--1:00 pm

PSA Event Final
2:00 pm